18th April 2015

Visiting the Lake District Tarns - Walk No 36

7 tarns from Grasmere


Walk Overview
Time 7:55am to 3:20pm
Duration 7 hr 25 min
Distance 12.3 mile
Ascent 3400 ft
Walking with Rod Hepplewhite
A591 - Butharlyp How - Easdale - Easdale Tarn - Codale Tarn - Sergeant Man - Thunacar Knott Tarn - Thunacar Knott - High Raise - Sergeant Man Tarn(s) - Ash Crags Tarn - Brownrigg Tarn - Calf Crag - Steel Fell Tarn(s) - Steel Fell - Cotra Breast - Helmside - Low Mill Bridge - A591
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, A591 outside Grasmere

I've described this spot as roadside parking, but it is actually a rather long lay-by found between Grasmere and the bottom of Dunmail Raise. It is quite a popular spot, so latecomers may arrive to find it full. If this turned out to be the case the best alternative would be to try one of the car parks in Grasmere itself. It all depends on where you're going of course, but the distance this would add onto your walk is not much at all.


Route Map


It's just before 8am and although there wasn't a cloud in the sky, there was a chill in the air down here in the shade. Never mind, we knew in ten minutes or so we'd be walking in the sunshine and as it turned out, we'd be walking in the sun for the rest of the walk. That was the second thing I hadn't expected today.
"OK so what was the first thing you hadn't expected today"
"the first thing, O yes, I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen this morning"
What else was I going to say, , , , err, , , that's Steel Fell in the sunshine. In about 7 hours we'll be walking down the path you can see.

Looking through Easedale towards Tarn Crag which you can see easily and also Sourmilk Gill waterfalls, which aren't too clearly seen from this distance but, and it's a big but, can actually see them.

New Bridge is passed but not crossed.


We reach the waterfalls only to find them looking somewhat lacking in water.

On the final section of path before reaching Easedale Tarn.

Easedale Tarn was a place of peace and quiet when we arrived here just after 9am. I suspect the place would have been packed in a few hours time.

Our route would take us past the end of Easedale Tarn.

A short out and back from the main path up to Sergeant Man and you can easily visit Codale Tarn.

Both Codale Tarn and Easedale Tarn are visible from a few points along the route up to Sergeant Man. Here you can see most, but not quite all of the tarns. Beyond the tarns you have a good selection of eastern fells on view. Dollywaggon Pike, St Sunday Crag, Seat Sandal, Fairfield, Great Rigg and Stone Arthur to name a few of them.

Approaching Sergeant Man.

Sergeant Man summit in front of a short section of Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Esk Pike Allen Crags and Great End. Over on the right, Great Gable and Green Gable can be seen.
It was here that we had to make a decision; spend a little time visiting the half dozen or so tarns that are close by now, or, because we're coming back this way later, visit them then. Strangely, It made sense to head across to Thunacar Knott and High Raise first; so off we went.

Thunacar Knott Tarn

Just across from the tarn is Thunacar Knott summit.

Zooming in on Harrison Stickle summit.



We double back from Thunacar Knott and make our way up to High Raise. It's easy and very pleasant walking across here without a great deal in the way of height gain.

Looking across to Bow Fell, Rossett Pike, Esk Pike, Allan Crags, Great End and of course Great Gable.

High Raise summit.

After a short walk from High Raise we're back in the area around Sergeant Man to visit the collection of tarns near the summit of the fell.

Looks like the couple up there have found themselves a nice perch to admire the view.


That's Sergeant Man summit over there.


From Sergeant Man we head down a great route which would take us to the head of Far Easdale. On the way we pass by Ash Crags Tarn.

I was buckling under the pressure and responsibility so Rod took on the role of walk leader for a while. Here he is heading down the path next to Mere Beck.

Looking down to Far Easedale. When devising all these tarn walks my original intention had been to head down Far Easedale from here and then back to Grasmere. Given the perfect condition today, I'm pleased I had a change of mind and decided to lengthen the walk by heading around to Steel Fell as well.

Brownrigg Tarn.

As we were so close, we walked the short distance to the top of Calf Crag. Strangely, this was the busiest place of the day with perhaps a dozen or so people in the area around the summit.

Another bonus to including Steel Fell on this walk was walking across here while it was dry under foot. Even if you've never been here you can tell from the picture that it's the kind of place that holds onto water.

Steel Fell Tarn was the final tarn of the day. OK, technically that's not quite right because there are two of them on here and this was the first one we walked past.


This is the smaller of the two Steel Fell Tarns and definitely the last one we visited today.

Down there is the A591, noise, traffic and a very long line of cars parked along the road which had been deserted when we began walking this morning.

Just before reaching the top of Steel Fell you get this view down to Thirlmere. You have to leave the path and walk across to the fence but if you do, this is what you'll see.



Now we begin the descent off Steel Fell.

"What on earth is that noise"
Then we noticed dozens of scooters going up Dunmail Raise, and a few minutes later, , , dozens more, , , and a few minutes later , , , dozens more, , , , , , OK I'm sure you getting the picture by now. I can't see it being a coincidence that they're all here on the same day so I assume there must be some kind of scooter get together going on somewhere.

Almost down to Helmside now and it was really quite warm down here.

Just before we left the fellside altogether we turn around for a look into the entrance of Greenburn.

Ghyll Foot Farm.

Looking back to Steel Fell from the road near Ghyll Foot Farm.

And again from Low Mill Bridge.
As it turns out, today's walk is the 36th of my tarn walks and of the original list of walks I had this marks the halfway point for the walks (not the tarns themselves). I've no doubt that as the list gets shorter and the walks to choose from become less varied progress will slow down, but, so far it's gone really well and I never expected to be this far on so soon into the year.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks